UN: Ethiopian government doesn’t control Amhara and Eritrean forces; US politicians urge President Biden to intervene
(eritreahub)—The UN Security Council meeting on the Ethiopia and the Tigray war on Wednesday heard important statements. Below are reports on these issues. These are some:
- U.N. aid chief Mark Lowcock said Abiy’s government controls between 60% and 80% of the territory in Tigray, but does not have full command of the ethnic Amhara and Eritrean forces also operating in the region.
- The opportunities to deliver aid remain fragile, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said. “Very little is being allowed in,” he said. “What we need is to be able to just get in there in an unfettered manner without having to, I guess, negotiate for every truck, for every box. We work cooperatively with the government, and it’s their country … we have to go through them, and that’s the way it should be. But there is a grave humanitarian need in Tigray, and at this point, we’re not able to reach the people that need to be reached,” Dujarric said.
- Republicans are calling on the Biden administration to help put an end to a humanitarian and security crisis in Ethiopia. Congressional Republicans, led by Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Jim Risch (R., Idaho) and House Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member Michael McCaul (R., Texas), said that President Joe Biden must act to alleviate the human rights crisis emerging in Tigray. McCaul said Biden must “demand accountability” from the Ethiopian government, which has allegedly committed crimes against humanity amid a regional communications blackout. “We still do not know the full extent of atrocities committed against civilians in Tigray, and the conflict has resulted in a staggering humanitarian crisis,” McCaul said. “We must demand accountability, elevate our diplomatic engagement with the government of Ethiopia, and work with our allies and partners to prevent further destabilization in the region.”
U.N. warns Tigray conflict could spark broader destablization in Ethiopia
Hundreds of thousands of people in Tigray have not received help and the United Nations has been unable to completely assess the situation because it does not have full and unimpeded access, according to Lowcock’s notes for the closed virtual briefing of the 15-member Security Council.
He said there were reports of increasing insecurity elsewhere, which could be due to a vacuum created by the redeployment of Ethiopian troops to Tigray, and that the United Nations was concerned about the potential for broader national and regional destablization.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered air strikes and a ground offensive against Tigray’s former ruling party – the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) – after regional forces attacked federal army bases in the region on Nov. 4.
The TPLF withdrew from the regional capital, Mekelle, and major cities, but low-level fighting has continued.
In the region of more than five million people, thousands of people are believed to have died and 950,000 have fled their homes since fighting began.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was “seriously concerned” over the situation in Tigray, a U.N. spokesman said late on Tuesday.
Lowcock said Abiy’s government controls between 60% and 80% of the territory in Tigray, but does not have full command of the ethnic Amhara and Eritrean forces also operating in the region.
Dozens of witnesses say Eritrean troops are in Tigray to support Ethiopian forces, though both countries deny that.
The United Nations has received reports that police are operating at a fraction of their previous capacity and Lowcock said he could confidently say that if protection and aid were not quickly increased then the humanitarian situation would deteriorate.
He said there were troubling accusations of sexual and gender-based violence.
Several senior U.N. officials recently visited Ethiopia to push for greater access to Tigray. Lowcock said he was hopeful there would be concrete progress in coming days to allow aid to be scaled up.
UN still hoping for humanitarian access to Tigray
Every member of the UN Security Council called for increased aid during a closed-door meeting Wednesday to discuss the humanitarian situation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, according to diplomats.
The meeting had been requested by Ireland, Estonia, France, Norway, Britain and the United States.
“Everyone said there should be more humanitarian access,” one diplomat said under condition of anonymity, though no official statement was released after the discussions.
There was never meant to be a declaration passed, according to the same diplomat, though another said the idea was abandoned because African members of the council had said they would refuse to vote for one, deeming it unproductive.
Meetings on the situation in Tigray have been few and far between since the Ethiopian military operation began in November, with African countries in particular preferring to treat the conflict as a domestic matter.
But Western powers have argued that the influx of refugees into neighboring Sudan was a humanitarian crisis requiring international intervention.
The Security Council also failed to produce a declaration after other closed-door meetings on November 24 and December 14.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in mid-December announced two deals with Ethiopian authorities that should have allowed access to the country.
But opportunities to deliver aid remain fragile, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Wednesday.
“Very little is being allowed in,” he said.
“What we need is to be able to just get in there in an unfettered manner without having to, I guess, negotiate for every truck, for every box.”
“We work cooperatively with the government, and it’s their country … we have to go through them, and that’s the way it should be,” Dujarric said.
“But there is a grave humanitarian need in Tigray, and at this point, we’re not able to reach the people that need to be reached.”
High-level UN figures visited Ethiopia this week, including the high commissioner for refugees Filippo Grandi and UN undersecretary-general Gilles Michaud — while a visit from World Food Program chief David Beasley is expected in the coming days, according to diplomats — to try to gain access to refugee camps.
Akshaya Kumar of the NGO Human Rights Watch said: “The Security Council should hold a public session followed by a strong resolution demanding an end to aid obstruction and immediate investigation of war crimes” in Ethiopia.
Source: Washington Free Beacon